Like everything else, the global economy is experiencing an evolution that’s changing how it works and who takes part in it. With new and emerging forms of consumption that have resulted from a confluence of technological, economic, and sociocultural phenomena, an already-complex economic system has become even more elaborate.
Enters blockchain, the technology at the heart of bitcoin and virtual currencies. Introduced in 2008, blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. In the blockchain economy, it will always be clear how money moves between different hands, and other efficiencies will also promote a more agile financial sector.
The goal of blockchain is to allow digital information to be recorded and distributed, but not edited. In this way, a blockchain is a foundation for immutable ledgers, or records of transactions that cannot be altered, deleted, or destroyed. This is why blockchains are also known as distributed ledger technology (DLT), according to Investopedia.
While the real impacts of blockchain on the economy have yet to be fully understood, it has already gained massive traction. A Chainalysis Global Crypto Adoption Index released in October last year showed that worldwide adoption of cryptocurrency jumped over 880%. An analysis by PwC also revealed that blockchain technology has the potential to boost global gross domestic product (GDP) by US$1.76 trillion by 2030.
However, amidst the growing interest in this new economic infrastructure, the blockchain industry is seemingly distributed unevenly. Firm Crypto Head reported that 95% of the industry actors are males. The firm analyzed the genders of the founders of the leading crypto companies in the world and found out that of the 121 listed founders, only five were female.
A Vietnamese-German social entrepreneur is trying to change the narrative. Even if the viability of blockchain projects remains to be seen, Thy-Diep “Yip” Ta is pushing for more women involvement through mentoring and coaching programs using a women-designed curriculum. Yip co-founded several firms that focus on training female leaders to become active actors of the tech and de-fi economy. DLT Talents, for one, is an 18-week free program aimed at building blockchain literacy among the underserved. It empowers women to become entrepreneurs, technologists, regulators, investors, or multipliers in the blockchain, crypto assets, or DLT ecosystem.
DLT has so far mentored 260 women out of a few thousand applications between 2020 and early 2022, 80 of them have already found jobs in the blockchain space. A new program is set to start on April 4; the application for this batch closes in March.
Vietcetera spoke with Yip to know more about the blockchain economy and how significant women’s roles are in a still-uncharted part of the digital ecosystem.
When and how did your interest in blockchain start?
I was already into social entrepreneurship back in high school. I was following the works of Muhammad Yunus, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering micro-credit loans to impoverished people in Bangladesh. His work was revolutionary. Then I thought, ‘how can we bring the same principle of creating businesses that serve humanity?’ I’m Vietnamese and I came from a very traditional refugee family so I know the importance of education. I was fortunate enough to enjoy free education in Germany through scholarships. In 2020, I was able to attend the World Economic Forum, where I learned how we can integrate mindfulness into capitalism. It’s also where I met all these people involved in the blockchain economy and we thought of how to use this evolution of the Internet to bring about change and solve the equity of wealth issues. I studied more about blockchain and cryptocurrency and realized that this is exactly what I’m looking for. This is the kind of technology in the financial market that has the vision of a more fair and collaborative stakeholder economy that serves everyone.
You co-founded DLT Talents, which empowers ambitious women to get into blockchain technology. What exactly is this program about?
To make building DLT Talents possible, I teamed up with some of the best people I’ve worked with years back. They share the same vision of a fair economy and of creating a space not dominated by one gender. So we conceptualized this 18-week mentoring program where we teach women from zero to becoming literate about the blockchain economy. We have five different areas of focus: Entrepreneurship, IT development, regulations, venture capital, and media. We go through each of these disciplines and eventually build an area of expertise for each of our participants and allow them to build their brand name. A lot of our graduates are now actually part of the blockchain industry, not just as consumers but as leaders. Because they are already in these high positions, they are also able to hire more women, and through this, we break the cycle of gender inequality in the tech industry.
Why is it important for women to become leaders in this quickly developing space?
A fair economy requires equitability, including equal opportunity to enter the blockchain technology market. But to be able to be part of this space, one needs to have the right knowledge and be able to thrive in the ecosystem. But for women, the opportunity is rare. Until today, there are not too many women who know about blockchain. This is quite worrying because blockchain, like the Internet, will soon be fully integrated into our daily lives. If there aren’t women involved in building this technology, then all the wealth we can reap from this goes to men. If we want to solve the issue of the inherent gap in wealth and equity between genders, we can start with a technology that’s still so young and can still be shaped into what it should be.
Do you have Vietnamese participants in the program? How active are the Vietnamese in the blockchain economy?
Vietnam is quite an attractive market for the blockchain economy. There are a lot of talented young people who are not only consuming the technology but are equally contributing. They’re mainly on the coding or UX/UI side. The usage of cryptocurrency isn’t so big and prevalent in Vietnam yet, but it’s already there. If you want an economy to develop, then you also want the users to be active contributors. In the case of blockchain, we are starting to see that there are developers and designers from Vietnam entering the blockchain economy.
Jenny Phan contributed to this report.